The Joys of Airstrikes and Anonymity December 30, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pakistan, War.
Tags: Afghanistan, Afghanistan War, air strikes, al-Qaeda, civilian casualties, collateral damage, corporate media, drone missiles, glenn greenwald, islam, journalism, Media, media ethics, muslim, muslim world, pakistan, predator missile, Qaaim al-Raymi, roger hollander, sudan, terrorism, terrorist, war, yemen, yemen strike
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Each time the U.S. bombs a new location in the Muslim world, the same pattern emerges. First, officials from the U.S. or allied governments run to their favorite media outlet to claim — anonymously — that some big, bad, notorious, “top” Al Qaeda leader “may have been” or “likely was” killed in the strike, and this constitutes a “stinging” or ”devastating” blow against the Terrorist group. These compliant media outlets then sensationalistically trumpet that claim as the dominant theme of their ”reporting” on the attack, drowning out every other issue.
As a result, and by design, there is never any debate or discussion over the propriety or wisdom of these strikes. After all, what sane, rational, Serious person would possibly question a bombing raid or missile strike that ”likely” killed a murderous, top Al Qaeda fighter and struck a “devastating blow” to that group’s operationg abilities? Having the story shaped this way also ensures that there is virtually no attention paid to the resulting civilian casualties (i.e., the slaughter of innocent people); most Americans, especially journalists, have been trained to ignore such deaths as nothing more than justifiable “collateral damage,” especially when a murderous, top Al Qaeda fighter was killed by the bombs (besides, as Alan Dershowitz once explained, “civilians” in close enough proximity to a Top Terrorist themselves may very well bear some degree of culpability). The adolescent We-Got-the-Bad-Guy! headline also ensures there is no attention paid to the radicalizing effect of these civilian deaths and our attacks for that country and in the region.
Yet over and over and over, it turns out that these anonymous government assertions — trumpeted by our mindless media — are completely false. The Big Bad Guy allegedly killed in the strike ends up nowhere near the bombs and missiles. Sometimes, the very same Big Bad Guy can be used to justify different strikes over the course of many years (we know we said we killed him four times before, but this time we’re pretty sure we got him), or he can turn up alive when it’s time to re-trumpet the Al Qaeda threat (we said before we killed him in that devastating airstrike, but actually he’s alive and more dangerous than ever!!). Just like the “we killed 30 extremists“ claim or the “we got Al Qaeda’s Number 3″ boast, this is propaganda in its purest form, disseminated jointly by the U.S. Government and American media, and it happens over and over, compelling a rational person to conclude that it’s clearly intentional by both parties.
In the last week alone, this pattern just asserted itself — twice — with regard to the air strikes in Yemen. The first set of strikes, it was immediately leaked, was allegedly aimed at “the presumed leader of al Qaeda in Yemen, Qaaim al-Raymi,” yet it turned out he was not among the dozens of people killed, though “U.S. officials believe one of his top deputies [unnamed] may have been killed.” Then, after a second set of strikes on Thursday, it was claimed that “a Yemeni air raid may have killed the top two leaders of al Qaeda’s regional branch,” and an American Muslim preacher linked to Nidal Hasan, “the man who shot dead 13 people at a U.S. army base [Anwar al-Awlaki] may also have died.”
But while ABC News had identified “the presumed leader of al Qaeda in Yemen” as “Qaaim al-Raymi” when he was the target of last week’s strikes, Reuters decided that the “top two leaders of al Qaeda’s regional branch” were completely different people — “Nasser al-Wahayshi, the Yemeni leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and his Saudi deputy, Saeed al-Shehri” — and then excitedly announced that they “may have been killed” by this week’s air strikes. Whoever we claim we kill is the “key leader of Al Qaeda’s operations”– and it can change from day to day. And now, it turns out, the “radical cleric” who reportedly spoke at length with the accused Fort Hood shooter and thus packs the most emotional punch for Americans is not dead at all, but “is alive and well following reports he may have been killed in a Yemeni airstrike against suspected al-Qaida hideouts.”
Just watch how this obvious propaganda tactic works again and again:
The presumed leader of al Qaeda in Yemen, Qaaim al-Raymi, has frequently appeared on internet videos, . . . Qaaim al-Raymi was considered a prime target of the attack Thursday but was reported to have escaped the attack. However, U.S. officials believe one of his top deputies may have been killed.
A Yemeni air raid may have killed the top two leaders of al Qaeda’s regional branch on Thursday, and an American Muslim preacher linked to the man who shot dead 13 people at a U.S. army base may also have died, a Yemeni security official said. Nasser al-Wahayshi, the Yemeni leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and his Saudi deputy, Saeed al-Shehri, were believed to be among more than 30 militants killed in the dawn operation in the eastern province of Shabwa, said the official, who asked not to be identified.
U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki may also have died in the air strike which targeted a meeting of militants planning attacks on Yemeni and foreign oil and economic targets, he said. If all the deaths are confirmed, the air strike would appear to have struck a severe blow against AQAP, seen as the most dangerous regional offshoot of Osama bin Laden’s network.
A U.S.-born radical cleric is alive and well following reports he may have been killed in a Yemeni airstrike against suspected al-Qaida hideouts . . .
In addition to al-Awlaki, the top leader of al-Qaida’s branch in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, Naser Abdel-Karim al-Wahishi, and his deputy Saeed al-Shihri were also believed to be at the meeting, Yemen’s Supreme Security Committee said. But Yemeni officials still have no access to the area, which is controlled by armed gunmen and supporters of al-Qaida, and could not confirm for certain who was killed in the attack.
Ayman al-Zawahiri — Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in the al Qaeda terrorist network — was the target of a CIA airstrike Friday in a remote Pakistani village and may have been among those killed, knowledgeable U.S. sources told CNN. . . . the sources said there was intelligence suggesting he was in one of the buildings hit during the strike.
Al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri said in a videotape aired Monday that President Bush was a “butcher” and a “failure” because of a deadly U.S. airstrike in Pakistan targeting the bin Laden deputy, and he threatened a new attack on the United States. A U.S. counterterrorism official, speaking on condition of anonymity in compliance with office policy, said there was no reason to doubt the authenticity of the tape.
Ayman al-Zawahiri – the second most powerful leader in al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden’s No. 2 – may be critically wounded and possibly dead, CBS News chief foreign affairs correspondent Lara Logan reports exclusively. . . . CBS News has obtained a copy of an intercepted letter from sources in Pakistan, which urgently requests a doctor to treat al-Zawahiri. . . . The letter is dated July 29 – one day after a U.S. air strike that killed al Qaeda weapons expert Abu Khabab al-Masri, and five other Arabs in South Waziristan. . . . a counter-intelligence expert and other U.S. officials confirmed to CBS News that the U.S. is looking into reports that al-Zawahiri is dead.
Al Qaeda’s No. 2 thug has “emerged” as its operational leader after seven years on the run with the same $25 million bounty on his head as Osama Bin Laden. Despite years of Bush administration claims that Ayman al-Zawahiri – an Egyptian doctor turned Bin Laden deputy – was on the lam with his boss and unable to exert control, the opposite is now true, a State Department report said Thursday. . . .”Although Bin Laden remains the group’s ideological figurehead, Zawahiri has emerged as Al Qaeda’s strategic and operational planner,” the report added.
Two senior members of Al Qaeda and the son-in-law of its No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, were among those killed in the American airstrikes in remote northeastern Pakistan last week, two Pakistani officials said here on Wednesday. . . .If any or all were indeed killed, it would be a stinging blow to Al Qaeda’s operations, said the American officials, who were granted anonymity because they were not authorized by their agencies to speak for attribution. . . . The airstrikes, which killed 18 civilians, among them women and children, have caused anger across the country . . . At least one of the men believed by the Pakistani officials to have been killed, an Egyptian known here as Abu Khabab al-Masri, is on the United States’ most-wanted list with a $5 million reward for help in his capture. His real name is Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar, 52, who according to the United States government Web site rewardsforjustice.net, was an expert in explosives and poisons. . . . The target of the raid, American officials have said, was Al Qaeda’s No. 2, Mr. Zawahiri, but they have acknowledged that he was not killed in the attack and Pakistani officials say that Mr. Zawahiri failed to show up for the dinner that night.
ABC News has learned that Pakistani officials now believe that al Qaeda’s master bomb maker and chemical weapons expert was one of the men killed in last week’s U.S. missile attack in eastern Pakistan. Midhat Mursi, 52, also known as Abu Khabab al-Masri, was identified by Pakistani authorities as one of four known major al Qaeda leaders present at an apparent terror summit in the village of Damadola early last Friday morning.
Current and former U.S. intelligence officials now believe that the Egyptian, Abu Khabab Masri, is alive and well — and in charge of resurrecting Al Qaeda’s program to develop or obtain weapons of mass destruction.
Another Egyptian, known by the alias Abu Ubayda al-Misri, was also believed killed, the Pakistani officials said. He was the chief of insurgent operations in the southern Afghan province of Kunar, which borders Bajaur in Pakistan, the area where the airstrikes occurred, according to one of the Pakistani officials.
Abu Ubaida al-Masri, one of Al Qaeda’s top operatives and the mastermind behind a plot to use liquid explosives to blow British passenger jets out of the sky, is dead, a U.S. official confirmed to FOX News Wednesday. The unidentified official said it is believed that al-Masri died of natural causes, possibly hepatitis, in Pakistan, and are staying away from a report that he was killed in a January CIA predator strike.
Months of attacks by unmanned US predator aircraft have caused carnage among the middle ranks of terrorist leaders in the lawless lands along the border with Afghanistan . . . Their victims have included experienced Arab leaders and, it is now thought, Adam Gadahn, a former heavy-metal fan and so-called “killer computer nerd” originally from California. Nothing has been heard from him for months, leading intelligence experts to conclude that he may be dead.
Adam Gadahn, a Southern California-raised man self-described as American Al Qaeda has released a new video in which he talks about his Jewish ancestry.
U.S. officials believe Usama bin Laden’s son, Saad bin Laden, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Pakistan. Sources confirmed to FOX News late Wednesday that officials believe the younger bin Laden was killed by hellfire missiles from a U.S. Predator drone strike earlier this year.
A close friend of Osama bin Laden told Al Arabiya that he thought the al-Qaeda mastermind’s son was probably still alive casting doubt on reports by American media that he was killed in Pakistan. Yemeni national Rashad Saied, who stayed with bin Laden in Afghanistan before the September 11, 2001 attacks, said there is no proof to U.S. media reports last week that Saad bin Laden was killed in an American airstrike on Pakistan earlier this year. “If Saad had been killed, al-Qaeda would have announced that,” Saied told Al Arabiya. “They announced the death of many key figures in the organization before. It is considered a source of pride for them.”
A teenage daughter of Osama bin Laden, who has lived with at least five of her siblings in a guarded compound in Iran since 2001, took refuge last month in the Saudi Embassy in Tehran . . . The status of another son, Saad, remained uncertain. American officials said last summer that they believed that Saad bin Laden had traveled from Iran to Pakistan and had been killed by an American missile fired from a drone. Omar and Zaina bin Laden said Saad was still in the Tehran compound when the missile attack was said to have occurred, but they said that they did not know where he was now or whether he was still alive.
I could literally spend the rest of the day chronicling events very similar to these. A few caveats are in order. It’s not surprising that facts are sometimes difficult to obtain in the immediate aftermath of a strike, particularly in remote areas such as Western Pakistan and Yemen. Sometimes, these air strikes do actually result in the death of the specific targets alleged to lead various Islamic radical groups.
But far more often, these boasting claims regarding a controversial U.S. air attack or missile strike turn out to be completely false. It’s painfully obvious that these assertions are made to overwhelm, distort and suppress any discussions of the actual effects of the attack — who the strike really killed, whether it was justified, legal or wise, whether we should continue to drop bombs in more and more Muslim countries. Yet no matter how many times these claims prove to be false, American media outlets not only dutifully and mindlessly print them without challenge or skepticism, but also allow these claims to dictate their headlines and the overwhelming focus of their “reporting” on the attacks (U.S. Air Strike Said to Kill Top Al Qaeda Leaders). As a result, Americans are innundated with false claims about things that never actually happened — pure myths and falsehoods — while the actual consequences of our actions (the corpses of innocent Muslim men, women and children being pulled from the rubble) are widely disseminated in the Muslim world, yet are barely mentioned by our media. And then we walk around, confounded and confused, about how there could be such a grave disparity in perception among our rational, free and well-informed selves versus those irrational, mislead, paranoid, and primitive Muslims.
Because it’s all done under the corrupt cover of anonymity, there’s never any accountability (reporters will simply say that they printed this because their government sources whispered it in their ears — so what choice did they have? — and they’ll keep the government officials’ identity concealed to ensure they can never be questioned). The whole process is blatantly designed not to convey what happened, but to obscure what happened and to prevent any discussion of its consequences.
Copyright ©2009 Salon Media Group, Inc.
Glenn Greenwald was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book “How Would a Patriot Act?,” a critique of the Bush administration’s use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, “A Tragic Legacy“, examines the Bush legacy.
My Number One Pick for the Top Censored Story of 2009–Check Out Top 25 December 21, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Media, Political Commentary.
Tags: carbon trade, censorship, congres, corporate media, defense contracts, Ecuador, foreign debt, gaza, grant lawrence, haiti, journalism, Karl Rove, katrina, lobbyyists, mass media, Media, mike connel, News, north carolina, nuclear waste, oil exploitation, pirates, roger hollander, somali, sudan, toxic waste, Wall Street
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www.opednews.com, December 21, 2009
Diary Entry by Grant Lawrence (about the author)
Many, if not all, of these stories have been reported on by great alternative and progressive sites, like OpEd News. Click on the ones that you may be unfamiliar with and send them to others.
All of these stories need to come into greater public awareness.
But the events leading up to the mysterious death of Mike Connell exposes vote fraud and points to corruption at the highest level.
So My pick for the Number One Censored Story of 2009
The Mysterious Death of Mike Connell–Karl Rove’s Election Thief
Karl Rove’s chief IT consultant, Mike Connell–who was facing subpoena in connection with 2004 Presidential election fraud in Ohio–mysteriously died in a private plane crash in 2008. Connell was allegedly the central figure in a longstanding plot to electronically flip votes to Republicans…..
Top Censored Stories of 2009/2010
* 1. US Congress Sells Out to Wall Street
* 2. US Schools are More Segregated Today than in the 1950s
* 3. Toxic Waste Behind Somali Pirates
* 4. Nuclear Waste Pools in North Carolina
* 5. Europe Blocks US Toxic Products
* 6. Lobbyists Buy Congress
* 7. Obama’s Military Appointments Have Corrupt Past
* 8. Bailed out Banks and America’s Wealthiest Cheat IRS Out of Billions
* 9. US Arms Used for War Crimes in Gaza
* 10. Ecuador Declares Foreign Debt Illegitimate
* 11. Private Corporations Profit from the Occupation of Palestine
* 12. Mysterious Death of Mike Connell–Karl Rove’s Election Thief
* 13. Katrina’s Hidden Race War
* 14. Congress Invested in Defense Contracts
* 15. World Bank’s Carbon Trade Fiasco
* 16. US Repression of Haiti Continues
* 17. The ICC Facilitates US Covert War in Sudan
* 18. Ecuador’s Constitutional Rights of Nature
* 19. Bank Bailout Recipients Spent to Defeat Labor
* 20. Secret Control of the Presidential Debates
* 21. Recession Causes States to Cut Welfare
* 22. Obama’s Trilateral Commission Team
* 23. Activists Slam World Water Forum as a Corporate-Driven Fraud
* 24. Dollar Glut Finances US Military Expansion
* 25. Fast Track Oil Exploitation in Western Amazon
Source: Project Censored
I work as a school counselor and mental health counselor in Gallup New Mexico.
Israel Stands Ready to Bomb Iran’s Nuclear Sites April 18, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Israel, Gaza & Middle East, War.
Tags: gaza, iran nuclear, israel attack, israel military, obama israel, roger hollander, sheera frenkel, sudan
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Published on Saturday, April 18, 2009 by The Times Online/UK
JERUSALEM – The Israeli military is preparing itself to launch a massive aerial assault on Iran’s nuclear facilities within days of being given the go-ahead by its new government.
Among the steps taken to ready Israeli forces for what would be a risky raid requiring pinpoint aerial strikes are the acquisition of three Airborne Warning and Control (AWAC) aircraft and regional missions to simulate the attack.
Two nationwide civil defence drills will help to prepare the public for the retaliation that Israel could face.
“Israel wants to know that if its forces were given the green light they could strike at Iran in a matter of days, even hours. They are making preparations on every level for this eventuality. The message to Iran is that the threat is not just words,” one senior defence official told The Times.
Officials believe that Israel could be required to hit more than a dozen targets, including moving convoys. The sites include Natanz, where thousands of centrifuges produce enriched uranium; Esfahan, where 250 tonnes of gas is stored in tunnels; and Arak, where a heavy water reactor produces plutonium.
The distance from Israel to at least one of the sites is more than 870 miles, a distance that the Israeli force practised covering in a training exercise last year that involved F15 and F16 jets, helicopters and refuelling tankers.
The possible Israeli strike on Iran has drawn comparisons to its attack on the Osirak nuclear facility near Baghdad in 1981. That strike, which destroyed the facility in under 100 seconds, was completed without Israeli losses and checked Iraqi ambitions for a nuclear weapons programme.
“We would not make the threat [against Iran] without the force to back it. There has been a recent move, a number of on-the-ground preparations, that indicate Israel’s willingness to act,” said another official from Israel’s intelligence community.
He added that it was unlikely that Israel would carry out the attack without receiving at least tacit approval from America, which has struck a more reconciliatory tone in dealing with Iran under its new administration.
An Israeli attack on Iran would entail flying over Jordanian and Iraqi airspace, where US forces have a strong presence.
Ephraim Kam, the deputy director of the Institute for National Security Studies, said it was unlikely that the Americans would approve an attack.
“The American defence establishment is unsure that the operation will be successful. And the results of the operation would only delay Iran’s programme by two to four years,” he said.
A visit by President Obama to Israel in June is expected to coincide with the national elections in Iran — timing that would allow the US Administration to re-evaluate diplomatic resolutions with Iran before hearing the Israeli position.
“Many of the leaks or statements made by Israeli leaders and military commanders are meant for deterrence. The message is that if [the international community] is unable to solve the problem they need to take into account that we will solve it our way,” Mr Kam said.
Among recent preparations by the airforce was the Israeli attack of a weapons convoy in Sudan bound for militants in the Gaza Strip.
“Sudan was practice for the Israeli forces on a long-range attack,” Ronen Bergman, the author of The Secret War with Iran, said. “They wanted to see how they handled the transfer of information, hitting a moving target … In that sense it was a rehearsal.”
Israel has made public its intention to hold the largest-ever nationwide drill next month.
Colonel Hilik Sofer told Haaretz, a daily Israeli newspaper, that the drill would “train for a reality in which during war missiles can fall on any part of the country without warning … We want the citizens to understand that war can happen tomorrow morning”.
Israel will conduct an exercise with US forces to test the ability of Arrow, its US-funded missile defence system. The exercise would test whether the system could intercept missiles launched at Israel.
“Israel has made it clear that it will not tolerate the threat of a nuclear Iran. According to Israeli Intelligence they will have the bomb within two years … Once they have a bomb it will be too late, and Israel will have no choice to strike — with or without America,” an official from the Israeli Defence Ministry said.
War Crimes and Double Standards March 5, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, George W. Bush, Media.
Tags: american journalism, Colin Powell, condoleezza, constitution, darfur, geneva conventions, George Bush, hassan al-bashir, house judiciary, icc, international crimnal court, iraq children, iraq illegal invasion, Iraq war, John Conyers, journalism, kucinich, media double standard, media responsibility, milbank, nicholas kristof, patrick leahy, republicans, robert parry, roger hollander, sentate judiciary, snowcroft, sudan, the hague, torture, torture commision, War Crimes, war on terror, waterboarding
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Robert Parry, March 5, 2009, www.consortiumnews.com
New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof – like many of his American colleagues – is applauding the International Criminal Court’s arrest order against Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for his role in the Darfur conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
In his Thursday column, Kristof describes the plight of an eight-year-old boy named Bakit who blew off his hands picking up a grenade that Kristof suspects was left behind by Bashir’s forces operating on the Chad side of the border with Sudan.
“Bakit became, inadvertently, one more casualty of the havoc and brutality that President Bashir has unleashed in Sudan and surrounding countries,” Kristof wrote. “So let’s applaud the I.C.C.’s arrest warrant, on behalf of children like Bakit who can’t.”
By all accounts, Kristof is a well-meaning journalist who travels to dangerous parts of the world, like Darfur, to report on human rights crimes. However, he also could be a case study of what’s wrong with American journalism.
While Kristof writes movingly about atrocities that can be blamed on Third World despots like Bashir, he won’t hold U.S. officials to the same standards.
Most notably, Kristof doesn’t call for prosecuting former President George W. Bush for war crimes, despite hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have died as a result of Bush’s illegal invasion of their country. Many Iraqi children also don’t have hands – or legs or homes or parents.
But no one in a position of power in American journalism is demanding that former President Bush join President Bashir in the dock at The Hague.
As for the unpleasant reality that Bush and his top aides authorized torture of “war on terror” detainees, Kristof suggests only a Republican-dominated commission, including people with close ties to the Bush Family and to Bush’s first national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.
“It could be co-chaired by Brent Scowcroft and John McCain, with its conclusions written by Philip Zelikow, a former aide to Condoleezza Rice who wrote the best-selling report of the 9/11 commission,” Kristof wrote in a Jan. 29 column entitled “Putting Torture Behind Us.”
“If the three most prominent members were all Republicans, no one on the Right could denounce it as a witch hunt — and its criticisms would have far more credibility,” Kristof wrote.
“Democrats might begrudge the heavy Republican presence on such a commission, but surely any panel is better than where we’re headed: which is no investigation at all. …
“My bet, based on my conversations with military and intelligence experts, is that such a commission would issue a stinging repudiation of torture that no one could lightly dismiss.”
In an earlier formulation of this plan, Kristof suggested that the truth commission be run, in part, by Bush’s first Secretary of State Colin Powell.
One of the obvious problems with Kristof’s timid proposal is that Rice and Powell were among the senior Bush officials who allegedly sat in on meetings of the Principals Committee that choreographed the abuse and torture of specific detainees.
Zelikow remained a close associate of Rice even after she replaced Powell as Secretary of State. And Scowcroft was President George H.W. Bush’s national security adviser and one of Rice’s key mentors.
It’s also not true that any investigation is always better than no investigation. I have witnessed cover-up investigations that not only failed to get anywhere near the truth but tried to discredit and destroy whistleblowers who came forward with important evidence. [For examples, see Secrecy & Privilege.]
In other words, bogus and self-interested investigations can advance bogus and self-interested history, which only emboldens corrupt officials to commit similar crimes again.
No Other Context
Kristof’s vision of having President Bush’s friends, allies and even co-conspirators handle the investigation of Bush’s crimes would be considered laughable if placed in any other context.
But Kristof’s cockeyed scheme passes almost as conventional wisdom in today’s Washington.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post assigned its satirical writer, Dana Milbank, to cover – and mock – Sen. Patrick Leahy’s Judiciary Committee hearing on his own plan for a truth commission to examine Bush-era abuses.
Milbank’s clever article opened with the knee-slapping observation: “Let’s be truthful about it. Things aren’t looking so good for the Truth Commission.”
The derisive tone of the article also came as no surprise. Milbank has made a cottage industry out of ridiculing anyone who dares think that President Bush should be held accountable for his crimes.
In 2005, when the Democrats were in the minority and the Republicans gave Rep. John Conyers only a Capitol Hill basement room for a hearing on the Downing Street Memo’s disclosures about “fixed” intelligence to justify the Iraq War, Milbank’s column dripped with sarcasm.
“In the Capitol basement yesterday, long-suffering House Democrats took a trip to the land of make-believe,” Milbank wrote. “They pretended a small conference room was the Judiciary Committee hearing room, draping white linens over folding tables to make them look like witness tables and bringing in cardboard name tags and extra flags to make the whole thing look official.”
And the insults – especially aimed at Conyers – kept on coming. The Michigan Democrat “banged a large wooden gavel and got the other lawmakers to call him ‘Mr. Chairman,’” Milbank wrote snidely. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Mocking the Downing Street Memo.”]
Then, last July, Milbank ridiculed a regular House Judiciary Committee hearing on Bush’s abuses of presidential power. The column ignored the strong case for believing that Bush had violated a number of international and domestic laws, the U.S. Constitution, and honorable American traditions, like George Washington’s prohibition against torture.
Instead, it was time to laugh at the peaceniks. Milbank opened by agreeing with a put-down from Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, calling the session “an anger management class.” Milbank wrote: “House Democrats had called the session … to allow the left wing to vent its collective spleen.”
Milbank then insulted Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who had introduced impeachment resolutions against Bush, by calling the Ohio Democrat “diminutive” and noting that Kucinich’s wife is “much taller” than he is.
What Kucinich’s height had to do with an issue as serious as abuses of presidential power was never made clear. What Milbank did make clear, through his derisive tone and repeated insults, was that the Washington Establishment takes none of Bush’s crimes seriously.
So, Milbank’s mocking of Leahy’s latest initiative fits with this pattern of the past eight years – protecting Bush from the “nut cases” who think international law and war-crimes tribunals should apply to leaders of big countries as well as small ones.
The pattern of “American exceptionalism” also can be seen in Kristof cheering the application of international law against an African tyrant but suggesting that Bush’s offenses should be handled discreetly by his friends.
Journalist Murray Waas often used the saying, “all power is proximate.” I never quite understood what he meant, but my best guess was that Waas was saying that careerists – whether journalists or from other professions – might have the guts to take on someone far away or who lacked power, while ignoring or excusing similar actions by someone close by with the power to hurt them.
That seems to be especially true about Washington and its current cast of “respected” journalists. They can be very tough on President Bashir but only make excuses for President Bush.
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.
“Thousands Made Slaves” in Darfur December 17, 2008Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Human Rights.
Tags: Africa, african union, child labor, darfur, darfur consortium, ethnic cleansing, human rights, khartoum, kidnapping, rape, refugee, sex slaves, slavery, sudan, torture, United Nations
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Thousands in Sudan are subject to a life of slavery. Most of them are women. (Photo: Giacomo Pirozzi / UNICEF)
17 December 2008
by: BBC News
Strong evidence has emerged of children and adults being used as slaves in Sudan’s Darfur region, a study says.
Kidnapped men have been forced to work on farmland controlled by Janjaweed militias, the Darfur Consortium says.
Eyewitnesses also say the Sudanese army has been involved in abducting women and children to be sex slaves and domestic staff for troops in Khartoum.
Up to 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million have fled their homes since conflict began in Darfur in 2003.
Sudan’s government has not yet commented on the allegations in the report, published on Wednesday.
The Darfur Consortium says it has around 100 eyewitness accounts from former abductees.
Thousands of people from non-Arabic speaking ethnic groups in Darfur have been targeted, its report says.
Victims have been rounded up during joint attacks on villages by the Arabic-speaking Janjaweed and the Sudanese Armed Forces, according to the study.
Civilians are also tortured and killed while their villages are razed to ethnically cleanse areas, which are then repopulated with Arabic-speaking people, including nomads from Chad, Niger, Mali and Cameroon, it says.
Most of the abductees are women and girls, but there is new evidence in Darfur of kidnappers targeting men and boys for forced agricultural labour, says the report.
The abducted women and girls, meanwhile, are raped and forced to marry their captors as well as carry out household chores and sometimes cultivate crops, according to the study.
“Told to Serve”
The report includes the testimony of children forced to become domestic workers.
One boy said he had suffered regular beatings from his Janjaweed abductors.
”They were treating me and the other boys very badly, they kept telling us that we are not human beings and we are here to serve them, I also worked on their farms,” he said.
A woman said she was kidnapped from a refugee camp and her captors “used us like their wives in the night and during the day we worked all the time.
”The men they abducted with us were used to look after their livestock. We worked all day, all week with no rest.”
Sudan’s government has always denied the existence of slavery in the country, although Khartoum has previously admitted abductions occurred in the north-south civil war of 1983-2005, when up to 14,000 people were kidnapped.
But a senior Sudanese politician who did not wanted to be named said kidnappings had also occurred more recently in Darfur.
”The army captured many children and women hiding in the bush outside burnt villages,” he told the report’s authors.
”They were transported by plane to Khartoum at night and divided up among soldiers as domestic workers and, in some cases, wives.”
Call to Action
The report urged Sudan’s government to disband the Janjaweed and other militia and to fully co-operate with the United Nations and the African Union.
Dismas Nkunda, co-chair of the Darfur Consortium, said: “Urgent action is clearly required to prevent further abductions and associated human rights violations, and to release and assist those who are still being held.”
The study also calls for the mandate of the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur (Unamid) to be beefed up so it can use force to protect civilians.
The Darfur Consortium also wants Khartoum to prosecute all those responsible for abductions and ban them from holding public office. It notes that no-one has ever been arrested over the wave of kidnappings.